2006-05-26 15:24:00

Council of Europe head calls for a stop to discrimination of gays, lesbians

Moscow, May 26, Interfax - Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has urged member-nations to guarantee the respect of all the rights of all citizens, including gays and lesbians.

"I add my voice to those condemning homophobia which, regrettably, remains alive and well in many parts of Europe. I also want to express my hope that this form of discrimination will soon be a matter of the past," his message to the participants of the international conference against homophobia underway in Moscow says.

The message circulated by the Council of Europe press service on Friday says: "Europe still has little to be proud of."

"Sixty years ago, gays and lesbians were victims of the Nazis. Today, they are no longer forced to wear a pink triangle, but they continue to be regularly exposed to prejudice, bigotry, violence and officially sanctioned discrimination," Davis notes.

"If mentalities cannot change overnight, official attitudes and laws can, and must, when the protection of the most basic human rights are at stake," the message says.

"All 46 member states of the Council of Europe are legally bound to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. Their authorities have the legal obligation to guarantee respect for all the rights of all their citizens," the message says.

"First, we must demolish the walls of prejudice and intolerance. Then we must build a new structure of acceptance, equality and respect," Davis says.